By Kurt Wolfheimer
Sometimes fights fall out due to injuries and other mishaps, but when main events and co-features go down in flames during the final days, it is like a small tornado hit the card, leaving the promoter with the decision to cancel the show or go on with what his original card. KEA Boxing’s card on Friday night at the Asylum Arena in South Philadelphia PA had the very such problem as the main event featuring Derek Ennis fell out when he hurt his shoulder over the weekend, forcing him to pull out. The co-feature with Coy Evans was then moved up to the main event, but that also fell out, leaving romoter Andre Kut in a quandary, He just couldn’t let the hard work of the fighters and his promotional team go to waste and he pushed forward with the card as planned no matter what the financial cost.. The main event turned out to be one to remember as KEA Boxing’s own undefeated welterweight sensation, Juan “The Beast” Rodriquez (6-0, 3KO’s) fought an exciting give and take six round war with hometown Philly welterweight Greg Hackett (2-9) which had the crowd cheering throughout the bout. When the smoke cleared it was Rodriquez falling to his knees, thankful for the close but, hard fought six round unanimous decision victory.
The fireworks started right at the press conference as Hackett continually baited Rodriquez with statement’s like “He has no defense. I don’t even know why they (KEA Boxing) promote him.” Rodriquez tried to keep on the straight path talking about his hard work and how he is ready for anybody that his promoter puts in front of him. Hackett was relentless, saying “I would be undefeated if I fought the five bums you did.” It finally looked like it was going to erupt as both fighters stood nose to nose with Hackett chirping away, trying to get in the Union City natives ear. The fighters came within an eighth of an inch of each other and you could feel the heat. Thankfully, they were broken up before any real punches could be thrown, leaving both combatants to settle it in the ring.
Hackett entered the ring first with a ominous black mask and looked to be in the best shape of his career, having over five weeks to prepare for battle. Rodriquez was next and he entered the ring looking confident and determined to put another victory on his resume.
What looked like as mismatch on paper was anything but as both fighters went to battle with strategic game plans, right from the opening bell, Hackett appeared more of the boxer, countering the much busier Rodriquez with right hands up top. Rodriquez was determined not to have his pans derailed as he steadily banged away on the midriff of the Philadelphian while also mixing in some right jabs and straight lefts up top.
Rodriquez continued to step up the pace with good work on the inside and some sharp lefts which slowed the punch output of Hackett. The middle rounds were close as Hackett showed flashes of his boxing ability along with good defense, slipping some nice combo’s on the inside.
The fight changed on a dime in the fourth as Hackett staggered Rodriquez with a hard right. Rodriquez wobbled back, before holding on while on unsteady legs. Hackett went on the attack but Rodriquez regained his composure and put him back on the defensive with two counter lefts.
Rodriquez looked very defensive in the fifth, choosing to jab and move a bit in the opening two minutes of the round. Hackett looked confident and avoided many of the jabs and caught Rdriquez with a few good counters. When the bell sounded to end the fifth, Hackett circled around the ring with his hands in the air as if he already had the fight won.
The fight appeared to be in the balance as both fighters left their corners. Hackett was slick and continued to slip and then bang away. Rodriquez stepped up his attack and mixed in some really good bodywork in his explosive combinations.
The fight went to the scorecards. There were several tense moments in the ring as the scores were tallied. The scores were read by golden toned ring announcer Henry Hascup “60-54, 59-55 and 58-56 and the words of “still undefeated” which sent Juan Rodriquez to his hands and knees in relief from the hotly contested battle.
In the co-feature of the evening, Ardrick “The Hitman” Bulter (7-4, 3KO’s) continued his comeback, capturing second straight victory and perhaps the biggest win of his career, with an impressive unanimous decision victory over over Oxford North Carolina’s William Wilson (8-8, 4KO’s).
Butler, a former professional basketball player in Europe, used his superior wingspan to measure the North Carolinian in the early going. Williams tried to penetrate the much improved defense of the Philly welterweight, but just could effectively land anything of note.
Butler’s confidence grew in the second round as his long combinations bloodied the nose of the game but outgunned Williams. Late in the round “The Hitman almost put another KO on his resume with a picture perfect right on the button. William legs just shot out from under him and he fell to the floor. Butler went after it with twelve unanswered punches as Williams covered. Knowing he might punch himself out,Butler backed off as Williams legs came back under him.
The heavy swings by Butler appeared to tire him and in the fifth he chose to move on the ropes. Williams, a seasoned veteran, knew what to do and he pressed forward and bang away to the body.
Butler regained his second wind in the sixth and final round to clearly take the decision. All three judges saw it in favor of Ardrick Butler by scores of 59-54 and 58-55 x 2, giving him the six round unanimous decision victory.
Unbeaten heavyweight knockout artist Jose Luis Roque (4-0,3KO’s), had some trouble shaking off over two years of ring rust in his workmanlike four round unanimous decision victory over Canadian journeyman Taffo Asongwed (2-8-7).
Roque was definitely rusty in the early going, but did display a nice jabs. As the rounds progressed, the six foot four Roque had his moments as he ripped a few nice uppercuts. Roque wobbled Asongwed, who had never been stopped with an uppercut, but he recovered quickly.
Sadly Asongwed would rarely fight back as he went on run around the ring like a sprinter on a track. Roque clearly became frustrated with the defensive antics of Asongwed, bydropping his hands, begging Taffo to step in and trade, but Asongwed continued running like he was in a track meet right until the final bell.
All three judges saw every round in favor of Jose Luis Roque by scores of 40-36 across the board.
The always exciting heavyweight slugger John “The Breed” Lennox was once again in a war, scoring a second round stoppage of Cabin Creek West Virginia’s, Jason Pauley
Lennox appeared to have trouble in the early going as Pauley continually found holes in the defense of the offensive minded Lennox with bristling combinations. Lennox was backed to the ropes, but with his usual warrior mentality, He fought back with a fury in the second. The tide changed on a moment’s notice as explosive combinations sent Jason Pauley to the canvas. Pauley rose to his feet, but wobbled around the ring as the bout was waived off at 2:10 of the second round of the scheduled four round contest.
John Lennox ups his record to 6-0, 3KO’s. Jason Pauley falls to 5-5, 1KO.
In another heavyweight contest Georgiy “The Chemist” Guralnik of Phioladelphia, PA scored his first tko as a pro over Washington ,DC’s Damian Richardson with a nice mixture of body and head combinations .
Guralnik was in control right from the start as he pounded away on the nearly defenseless DC native, Damien Richardson.
The heavy handed Guralnik switched up his attack late when he noticed that his big shots up top had Richardson covering his face in the corner. This left his ribcage exposed and Guralnik seized the opportunity unloading a huge series of hooks to the body, which hurt Richardson and he turned away but the referee Gary Rosato turned him around and asked him again if he was okay . He was able to survive without any further damage being done. Once in the corner, he refused to come out and retired in the corner. The time of the stoppage was 3 minutes of the opening round,
Georgiy Guralnik remains perfect, at 3-0, 1KO while Damian Richardson drops to 0-2.
In the opening four round featherweight bout of the evening, Harrisburg PA’s Josh Bowles used his superior boxing skills to overcome a cut over his right eye and win a four round unanimous decision victory over Cyprian Khumalo.
The cut over the right eye was caused by a clash of heads in the first, but it did not deter Bowles mixed his combination up which allowed him to keep Khumalo at bay throughout.
All three judges score the bout 40-46 in favor of Josh Boles who moves to a perfect 2-0 while Cyprian Khumalo remains winless at 0-2.